SCOTS locked down during the coronavirus pandemic are getting on their bike - as the number of people taking up cycling has rocketed since social distancing measures were introduced.

Last month, Cycling UK urged the public to use bicycles to complete essential journeys in a bid to help reduce demand on public transport and make it safer for critical workers, who have to rely on buses and trains to commute to work.

Now, research from Cycling Scotland has revealed that in some parts of the country, those taking up cycling has dramatically increased since the lockdown.  

According to the statistics, a counter in Dunfermline recorded an increase of 215% - with the number of people cycling at a Dundee location almost doubling as it increased by 94% and Livingston logging a 65% hike in the last two weeks of March.

Official advice from the Scottish Government for the public to adhere to social distancing rules allows for people to leave their homes for essential work that cannot be done at home, to buy essential food and medical supplies, as well as once a day for exercise.

The exercise can include walking or cycling and should be conducted close by to home, so no unnecessary car journeys are undertaken by people travelling to a place to exercise.

Last week, Scotland's national clinical director, Professor Jason Leitch warned that the daily exercise routines should be reasonable.

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He said: "You can leave home for the four reasons that you now know well.

"Can I just emphasise that exercise is exercise, not recreation, not your hobby - it's not the time to go mountain-biking.

"You need to just use it for 30, up to 60 minutes from your home to exercise to stay healthy and then stay at home."

Cycling Scotland has detected the surge in people peddling to stay healthy through its network of 60 automatic cycle counters across the country.

The data was collected as part of the national monitoring framework, managed by Cycling Scotland and funded by Transport for Scotland - to monitor cycling rates across the country.

Chief executive of Cycling Scotland, Keith Irving, said: “Many people are rediscovering cycling during lockdown, for exercise or essential journeys.

"I hope people continue to cycle when we emerge from this crisis and carry on benefitting from the massive positive impact cycling has on our physical and mental health."

He added: "We would strongly urge anyone getting out on their bike to follow current public health advice, especially on social distancing and hygiene.

"It’s also more important than ever to obey the speed limit, drive to the conditions and give space to people cycling or walking, when driving.  

“There are many brilliant organisations offering access to bikes for NHS and other key workers at the moment and we hope this can keep making a difference for people in the weeks to come.”  

Transport Scotland reported that travel has fallen from an average of 2.7 to 0.9 trips per person per day, with the number of people travelling by road dropping by two thirds since the start of March 2020.

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Speaking before the Easter weekend, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon indicated that "travel in Scotland has now been reduced, almost entirely to that which is  essential".

Cycling Scotland compared the average number of people cycling per day in the second half of March to the same period in 2019. Dunfermline has the biggest increase at 215%, Capelrig Burn in Newton Mearns showed a 121% rise, while Arbroath Road in Dundee has a 94 per cent surge in cycling.

Livingston registered a 66% increase, cycling in Denny has increased by 54% and Bathgate indicated a 51% rise.  

Other rises included a 30% increase in Kirkcaldy, a 29% soar in Cargenbridge in Dumfries, a 17% rise in Dunoon and 16% increase in Helensburgh.

Kirsty Clift is a care assistant in Bishopbriggs, where she supports adults with complex additional care needs.  

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, Kirsty has been getting to work on an ebike, borrowed from Blackhill on Bikes, a project in her local area.  

She said: “Before the outbreak, I’d normally drive to work.

"I wouldn’t cycle in Glasgow because I’m worried about safety - the roads used to feel too busy and dangerous and I wasn’t confident.  

“The roads have been quieter here so I decided to borrow the ebike from Blackhill on Bikes who have been great - they showed me how to use it and offered to cycle with me from home to work a couple of times so I could get used to it."  

She added: “The bike has been fantastic. The quieter roads have given me the confidence boost to ride my bike and you get a bit of exercise in the 20-minute cycle.  

“It’s good for mental health too – normally in the car I just listen to music but on the bike, it’s just you and the wind. It makes you feel better, it’s a really nice feeling. I feel more energetic, and more positive.  

“I’m definitely going to keep it up. It looks like we’re going to be in this situation for some time, so I’m going to use it to keep practicing, build my confidence and hopefully carry on cycling.”  

Lorna King, a mum-of-two from Edinburgh, hadn’t been on a bike for seven years before the Covid-19. She had cycled as a child but, due to lack of confidence and a busy family life, had never got back on the saddle as an adult.

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“I've always liked the idea of going for a family cycle,” she said, “but, if I'm honest, any time there would have been an opportunity, I just didn't have the confidence.  

“With social distancing and then lockdown, the time we normally spend taking the girls to gymnastics, dancing and swimming is now freed up and our daily exercise has become more precious.”  

Lorna decided to dust off her old bike and join her family for her first ride in nearly a decade.

She said: “I definitely felt a sense of accomplishment after my first cycle. Getting used to the gears again was something I needed some help with a bit at the beginning but got there within a few minutes.  

“The girls have loved us all getting out together on our bikes and we plan to keep cycling as a family.”

Cycling charity, Sustrans, has backed an open letter by health and transport experts, calling on the UK Government to help make walking and cycling easier during the coronavirus pandemic, including improved infrastructure.